Best way to run a clamshell Macbook Pro with External Monitor?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Mikebuzzsaw, May 18, 2009.

  1. Mikebuzzsaw macrumors 6502

    Oct 1, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    I running a 30 Dell monitor with my unibody macbook pro. It runs pretty hot in clamshell mode and I wanted to know what's the best way to deal with this? Buy a laptop cooler? Put it on a stand? Open the lid (but then both displays are running bringing down my external monitor resolution)
  2. iShater macrumors 604


    Aug 13, 2002
    If you open the MBP after it is up and running with the external (i.e. wake it up from sleep with only the external connected first using the external Kb/mouse), it will keep the internal LCD turned off.

    Cheapest way to do it if you are concerned with heat.
  3. moiety macrumors member

    Aug 13, 2008
    That's what I was going to suggest. Beyond that, it doesn't matter how hot it gets; they're DESIGNED to operate in clamshell mode, so it'll be fine. Plus, the machine is programmed to shut off the second it gets so hot it's no longer safe.
  4. Thiol macrumors 6502a


    Jan 26, 2008
    Does it get so hot that the fans speed up? I run my 2.6 GHz C2D MBP with a Samsung 305T and the fans only ramp up when I'm pushing the processors... If that fans don't blare on maximum, I think you should be OK and no addition precautions are needed.
  5. Eddyisgreat macrumors 601

    Oct 24, 2007

    Although I wouldn't recommend needlessly keeping the display open. Why? Sure it gets warm, but the glass on your display isn't going to crack and the aluminum your machine consists of isn't going to warp. The tried and true heatpipe method used back in the powerbook and first rev macbook pros will direct the heat away from the gpu and cpu extremely efficiently and pipe it to the fans which push air out the back (not through the keyboard or speaker vents or under the machine like some people like to believe). Check the link below to see what I mean.
  6. mikes70mustang macrumors 68000


    Nov 14, 2008
  7. indiecraig macrumors member

    Jan 25, 2008
    Get a Griffin Elevator or a Power Support Docking Stand. These will increase air flow on the bottom of your 'book and lead to a cooler, quieter life.
  8. TheSandman2236 macrumors 6502

    Mar 11, 2008
    Atlanta, GA
    I use the mStand by Rain for my Macbook Pro hooked up to my Dell 3007WFP-HC. Works great and my temps stay pretty low.
  9. Goettel macrumors member

    Oct 1, 2008

    I would also use FanControl (google it, there's a specific MBP version) to get the fans to ramp up earlier as the unibodies tend to wait quite a long time (temps can climb into the high 90s (°C) ) before the fans start revving up. Anyway, it is normal that the aluminum enclosure gets hot as it acts as a large heat sink, driving heat away from the chips.:D

    Without Fancontrol my temps would get almost to 100°C, with the chip's auto cut-off set at about 110°C. Now, they kick in at 55° and ramp up (linear) to max out at 80°C. My temps don't go over 75°C now (display open though) event with to yes> /dev/null instances running in the terminal and a 3D Racer game taxing the 9600GT.:eek:

    You should test a few things out. Try running two yes> /dev/null instances in the terminal with the display closed (that restricts airflow out the rear vent a bit) for say 10 minutes and post the max temp reached once fan speed is stable. Do the same but with the display opened and post the results here.

    We could finally now if the screen position has an impact on the cooling of the MBP as this question is often asked around here. :)
  10. 5DollaFootlong macrumors 6502


    Apr 26, 2009
    this tends to happen when I am in clamshell mode as well. However, if i put my closed macbook in front of my dell monitor so getting a griffin elevator would block the screen. If you have enough room on your desk, then you definitely should get a stand
  11. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    Yes and change the ice every 5 minutes? :D

    That is something I would suggest; if you use the laptop monitor, you'll have the Elevator; otherwise get the stand; mind you may tempted to place the Apple logo right-side up, don't as that block the air vents.
  12. Goettel macrumors member

    Oct 1, 2008
    I have the impression that a stand wouldn't do much good as the convection effect will just compensate for the lost heat-sink effect of having the laptop on a hard surface. Did you ever notice how warm a table can get with a MBP on it? That must help cool it.

    It would be interesting if someone with an external monitor could do some testing with iStat pro pushing the MBP hard and report back as I don't have an external display or a laptop stand... We could then know how to keep our laptops cool.
  13. 173080 macrumors 6502

    Aug 15, 2003
    Yes. :D
  14. Trinity macrumors regular


    Sep 10, 2005
    Barcelona - CAT
    my MBP gets very hot while playing Toca Race Driver in clamshell mode (GPU diode 76º and fans at 6000 rpm), but I don't worry about it. I have been running a Cube daily since 2001 to april 2009 pouring flames and the only part that died some day was the external power supply. My PowerBook G4 works also very hot, and here in Spain we reach high temperatures in summer: not a flaw.
  15. iShater macrumors 604


    Aug 13, 2002
    These machines are designed to run their internal components while closed. The ONLY real reason I can think of to do anything other than close or leave the lid open or getting a stand, etc. is if you don't like the sound of the fans cooling the system.

    Of course, personal preference of how you like it and want it to look like is also a factor. :)
  16. Jottle macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2003
    Something that hasn't been noted here yet, though it isn't an issue, is the fact that while the heat pipes to direct most of the hot air out the back of the machine, there is still warm air that ends up hitting the front of the mbp lcd glass when the fans really kick into high gear. This isn't an issue if you're in clamshell mode, but it is kind of distracting when you're gaming. Try this out: Play a game or something that really gets the graphics chips into high gear. After about 15 minutes of high use, you'll notice that on your mbp screen there will be a slightly darker area just above the 3 or 4 keys. This is the hot air hitting the glass on the screen and making it appear slightly darker. If you touch the screen on that area, you can actually feel the heat that hits the screen. I imagine that tilting the screen back further will reduce this effect, but it's there nonetheless. So not all the air makes it out the back of the mbp. Still, this won't be an issue in clamshell mode anyways because you're not using the build in mbp screen.
  17. mikes70mustang macrumors 68000


    Nov 14, 2008
  18. lotzosushi macrumors 6502


    Jan 10, 2007
    If you're looking to run the external without having to compromise the resolution of the limited 1440x900 on the MacBook Pro, there is a way that I always use that Apple built into the OS. I dunno if this was mentioned before but skimming through the comments I don't think I saw it.

    When you first boot the MacBook Pro with the external monitor plugged in, as soon as you hear the first clicking startup of the optical drive, immediately close the monitor back into clamshell mode BEFORE the startup apple logo appears. This should turn off the internal display and run at the maximum resolution the external monitor can display. I'm not sure if you're already doing this cause you didn't exactly say whether you were using this mode or not.

    However once the external monitor is running in full resolution and you are logged in, you can now open up the lid again and the internal monitor will stay off and the MacBook Pro will now act as a desktop in the "clamshell" mode that you referred to. :rolleyes: Hope this helps, and sorry if I misunderstood what you meant.
  19. areusche macrumors regular

    Jun 24, 2008
    Back in January I got a new hard drive with my macbook pro. It was one of the 500gb Seagate drives (5400 rpm).

    I used Time Machine to back up and restore my data. Well when it finished the temperatures were all over the place. It would sit at 103 F and swap all the way up to 140 F then 180 F (82 C for you Metric users out there :p).

    It was the dead of winter here in Ithaca NY, so I put that little bugger out on the balcony with these funny cement tiles. That cooled that machine down all the way to 65 F (18 C) .

    I was really worried my machine was going to burn out. I figure now it was doing some sort of defrag or sorting after the restore but still.

    I always recommend to anyone using a Macbook Pro with a Nvidia 8600m GT card to install SMC Fan Control 1 or 2. I personally use 2 and have the fans running at 6000 rpm or 5000 when I'm on battery. I like to use my "Notebook" on my "lap" :rolleyes:

    A couple of days ago I didn't boot in OS X and set the fan speed to max and started to play Crysis. Man that was one of the worst ideas ever. I managed to get the machine to go into that emergency stand by mode when it gets too hot. I let it boot into OS X and set the speeds to 6000. I put it into the freezer for a minute and got it back to some acceptable temperatures.
  20. kdum8 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 8, 2006
    Tokyo, Japan
    Another vote for clamshell mode. I run mine with the lid closed and the MBP hidden under the desk and no heating problems encountered here. :)

    I just wish there was a decent docking station available for the machine so I didn't have to unplug 10 cables everytime I want to go mobile....
  21. lord patton macrumors 65816

    lord patton

    Jun 6, 2005
    Yes, this.
  22. uanuglyfool macrumors regular


    Mar 8, 2009
    The Moon, CA
    I run my unibody macbook in clamshell mode ever since i got a 24'' dell monitor. I use to leave the lid closed but i seen that by leaving it open the temps were lower. I have it closed every now and then.

    My question tho is if any of you leave the charger plugged in?

    I was told that leaving it charged was bad for the battery. I leave it in only to charge the macbook but once its charged i unplug it off the charger. At first the macbook would only work with the external display when the charger was plugged in but then i discovered that if you open the lid AFTER you are in clamshell mode, you can unplug the charger and the LCD will remain off and the external display works.
  23. Michael CM1 macrumors 603

    Feb 4, 2008
    That's how mine runs ALL of the time. With the system just sitting here doing mild stuff (a Web page or two), the CPU is at 147 degrees and barely doing anything. That's without my cooling fan thingy running because it has started to get noisy thanks to a fan getting out of whack. I have turned that on and see zilch difference in the CPU temp. Maybe the enclosure bottom is cooler, but that's about it.

    Just make sure the thing is on a flat, hard surface. I have run it many times with HandBrake going without anything melting, and HB will use ALL the CPU power you have. My temp has topped out near 180 degrees on a 2.16 C2D. I'd just be wary if it gets much warmer than that sporadically. If it's that hot just sitting there doing very little, you've got an issue.
  24. Pomares macrumors member

    Jul 23, 2002

    I love being able to tuck away my notebook behind the monitor, but the fans kick in earlier and get louder more quickly.

    What I do is I open it up a bit and set it down (forms a mountain). The fans slow right down.
  25. deadwulfe macrumors 6502a


    Feb 18, 2010

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